That’s what Nicolás said he would do, what his economic announcements yesterday were for, with his hair recently dyed and all trace of sense buried beneath many layers of cynicism. The new 30% raise (Bs. 177,507.44) and 10 tax units raise in Cesta Ticket (food bonus) (Bs. 279,000) are Bs. 456,507.44 in total, or $11.41. It’s to become effective immediately and will directly impact the Christmas bonus, aguinaldos. The hike for retirees and pensioners (Bs. 177,507 in salary and a Bs. 53,252 “war bonus”) brings pensions to Bs. 230,759, or $5.76. He also announced that Hogares de la Patria and Chamba Juvenil debit cards would increase to Bs. 190,000 each, and promised a Bs. 500,000 Christmas bonus for four million families.

Losing value

The government has raised the minimum wage 41 times in 18 years of chavismo and this is the fifth in 2017, a year in which the minimum wage has increased by 555% and the so-called “integral” wage by 403%, while inflation breaks the 800% mark, further crushing the real value of a salary that had to deal with a Bs. 3,901,076 family basket and a Bs. 1,844,837 food basket in September.

Celebrating the 1st anniversary of the Bs. 100 banknote removal from circulation – which never really happened , Nicolás revealed the new Bs. 100,000 bill (100 million old bolívares) which only buys $2.5, on this date.

Later, he promised traditional perniles and toys for children who don’t have guaranteed access to food or vaccines. He promised payments in cash, although there aren’t enough bills in circulation; he promised arrests, because refusing to run in elections is now a crime, apparently.

He promised to light up Christmas without talking about inflation or shortages; he’ll light Christmas up while ignoring the crisis.

Cara’e tabla

Mayor Jorge Rodríguez went to National Electoral Council headquarters as a spokesman for PSUV to demand guarantees and respect for electoral laws that, according to him, the opposition is violating by refusing to run in municipal elections. His complaint against Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular focuses on their “calls for violence.” He also requested that  the CNE assess whether parties who won’t participate in these elections will be able to do so in presidential polls. He called Freddy Guevara “Hitler’s Bonsai,” claiming that they’re going to sweep the floor with the opposition.

He didn’t say whether PSUV would organize primaries to choose a presidential candidate and claimed that they’ll soon release a document resulting from negotiations between the government and the opposition.

Saab’s worth

The imposed prosecutor general announced that he’d open formal investigations against several citizens who have made calls to disregard State institutions: “We will request a preliminary hearing on merits against some figures who seem to be under the control of a strange entity (…) they will be against people I consider cowards because they promote violence but they won’t face it,” he said, claiming that they’ll punish any hate-inciting crime.

This means Saab will open an investigation against opposition leaders who have decided not to run in mayoral elections for lack of trust in the CNE. In his view, they could be committing crimes of conspiracy and instigation to disobedience.

His statement was a Lego piece complementing Jorge Rodríguez’s and last night. Nicolás supported both with absolute impudence.

Venezuela is first

Primero Justicia, Voluntad Popular and Causa R expressed the need for a new alliance to fight for adequate conditions to participate in coming presidential elections, agreeing that this alliance must go beyond political parties. Parliament Speaker Julio Borges said that governor Juan Pablo Guanipa’s decision – to refuse to be sworn in before the ANC opened the path to declare that “we want a different country.”

Henrique Capriles said that they’re preparing to rescue the vote and respect for the people’s choice, stating that the government “doesn’t want free elections” ever since they lost the National Assembly. Meanwhile, Freddy Guevara said that a governor is irrelevant if people don’t feel represented and Andrés Velásquez emphasized that it’s time to create a coherent alliance, as he lamented how the Constitution has been stripped of meaning.

All of them agreed on the priority of establishing a new CNE to reform the electoral system and allow them to go to 2018 presidential elections with guarantees.

302 billion

A research by Mayela Armas for Crónica Uno explains how, during the oil boom in 2004, el finado’s administration channeled part of the nation’s resources toward parallel funds that allowed chavistas to manage them outside the national budget, through up to 18 mechanisms (four in dollars and 14 in bolívares) and, according to reports from several public entities, through these parallel funds the Executive Branch handled $302 billion between 2004 and 2016! Merely comparing this figure with current international reserves is depressing for anyone. Parallel expenses were possible not only due to abundant resources, but also due to legal reforms that made it easier for them to use money through backchannels. Read the entire work when you can; it’s important.

Abroad

  • FARC top leader Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, aka “Timochenko,” will be the presidential candidate for his party Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común in next year’s elections.
  • The Ecuadorian ruling party Alianza País ousted president Lenín Moreno as their leader, revealing a crucial split that is now awaiting for Rafael Correa’s return.
  • Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont accepted the early elections convened by the central government. The National Court called him to testify in Madrid for alleged crimes of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement and Puigdemont won’t comply because he thinks he won’t have a fair trial in Spain.

PSUV candidates for mayoral elections are a disgrace and they ratify what we already know: chavismo doesn’t know how to grow or change, it merely reuses.

Acción Democrática assistant secretary, Negal Morales, suggested that Henry Ramos Allup might be their presidential candidate. Wow!

Henri Falcón justified the nomination of all 256 candidates of Avanzada Progresista in these elections with nearly the same terms used by Saab and Rodríguez.

Get your popcorn and watch the splits within chavismo; read the Twitter threads of Isaías Rodríguez against Pedro Carreño and Francisco Ameliach’s against Rafael Lacava.

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